Digong unleashes his attack dog

By Perry Diaz

Duterte-and-Roque.3Harry Roque made his mark fighting for people’s human rights. His resume is quite impressive. He is a member of the 17th Congress representing the party-list group Kabayan or Kabalikat ng Mamamayan, which represents marginalized sectors of the Filipino community, the disabled, senior citizens, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), fishermen, farmers, and the poor. He is a lawyer and a human rights advocate. He is a professor at the University of the Philippines.

Lawyer Harry Roque represents relatives of victims of the Maguindanao massacre.

Lawyer Harry Roque represents relatives of victims of the Maguindanao massacre.

Since 2009, Roque has been involved in the Maguindanao massacre case as one of the legal counsels for the families of the 32 media workers killed on November 23, 2009. At least 58 people including the 32 journalists were allegedly slain by armed men led by Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. of the town of Datu Unsay in Maguindanao.

The “professor”

The “Society of Honor: the Philippines” website has the following post about Harry Roque, dated October 12, 2012: “Harry Roque, until today, taught law at the University of the Philippines, Diliman campus. He referred to himself as a “professor” rather than an “attorney.” Today he is resigning, very likely to pursue a seat in the House of Representatives. I’m inclined to think that Mr. Roque views the field of law as a utility, a device, a tool to be used for gains along the way to fame and self-enrichment. He doesn’t view it as a profession requiring the exercise of sound ethical judgment to protect the integrity of his colleague, justice as an ideal, or the nation.

Lawyer Harry Roque with supporters of murdered Jennifer Laude.

Lawyer Harry Roque with supporters of murdered Jennifer Laude.

“Harry Roque, as an attorney, runs his cases through the media and he is “slash and burn” in his style. He’s the guy who received a disbarment complaint for egging the German boyfriend of the murdered Jennifer Laude over the jailhouse fence in order to point the finger at the accused Corporal Pemberton and declare him ‘GUILTY!’ before trial could get started. And before such shenanigans would be considered “in contempt of court.”

“He’s the guy who incited the family of Laude to march against the Philippine/American Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) because Harry knows the value of grief to extract compassion and anger from the public. Harry both opposes the VFA and represents Laude, in separate legal actions. He didn’t mind mixing two unrelated cases in which he has vested interests, and stepping on the dead to gain advantage.

“That’s Harry. Playing games with words and laws and ethics in search for an edge. And for notoriety, I suppose. Who knows what personal neediness drives such stunts. I’d imagine the Supreme Court rolls its collective eyes each time another trivial complaint brief from Harry hits their desks, gumming up their agenda some more.

“Harry Roque represents . . . to me . . . an example of the damaged goods that is Philippine ethics. I think he’d sacrifice the nation to push his personal agenda. He’d go outside the boundaries of decency to gain a point.

“From what I can see, he holds himself above propriety, above the courts, above his fellow lawyers. As far as I can tell, Harry is for Harry; he is not for any common good, and certainly not for respect of those with whom he disagrees.

“If we want to grasp why the Philippines is not a unified nation, we need only observe Harry Roque.”

The “opportunist”

Harry Roque accepts appointment as President Duterte’s spokesperson.

Harry Roque accepts appointment as President Duterte’s spokesperson.

If what the blog said about Harry Roque were true, it would depict him as an “opportunist” who doesn’t have any qualms about what people think of him. And he’d go to the extreme – come hell or high water — to get what he wants.

Last October 28, President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte made a stunning announcement: Roque would be his spokesperson. The announcement was made during Roque’s birthday party held in Davao City. It could have been his best birthday present. Heck this could be Roque’s ticket to winning a Senate seat in 2019. Or it could demolish him politically and banish him into oblivion, never to see daylight again.

Accepting the appointment is the boldest and biggest decision the firebrand human rights advocate/lawyer has made. But what is more mysterious is why the hell did he accept the job, which would require him to defend Duterte from allegations of human rights violations? He would be shredding to pieces all the work he had done to represent the marginalized sectors that include the disabled, elderly Filipinos, and the poorest of the poor.

The “propagandist”

Duterte’s attack dog Harry Roques (L) and the pastor Ernesto Abella (R).

Duterte’s attack dog Harry Roques (L) and the pastor Ernesto Abella (R).

Roque will be replacing the soft-speaking spokesperson Ernesto Abella, who has a rank of undersecretary and is a pastor by profession. Duterte was reportedly unhappy with Abella’s explanations regarding the sharp drop in his ratings. And what did Duterte expect Abella to say why Duterte’s ratings fell 18%? Abella did the best he could say without lying, something you don’t expect a pastor to do.

In an attempt to justify his new role, Roque said (in Filipino) during a TV interview, “He [Duterte] just said Abella is really a pastor. He said this is a not a church and what is needed is someone who can understand his remarks.” This is in reference to Duterte’s fiery remarks and controversial policy statements.

Hitler’s Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.

Hitler’s Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.

So, how would Roque explain the unexplainable? To deliver what’s expected of him, Roque would have to use Joseph Goebbels’ – Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda –mantra, to wit: “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.” It worked in Hitler’s Nazi Germany; it should also work in Duterte’s Philippines.

Duterte justified his appointment of Roque by saying: “To get the message clear, sabi ko [I said], Harry will fit the… kasi medyo malikot ang bunganga naming [because both our mouths are naughty].” Duterte also elevated Roque’s job to a cabinet secretary.

Well, Roque did not disappoint his new boss. Roque plans to attack Duterte’s critics head-on for any negative remark they’d say about him. He warned critics and bashers to be careful with their words because they might meet their match. And in an “attack dog” fashion, Roque served them notice: “Pag nambato kayo, hollow block ang igaganti ko.” [If you throw a stone at us, I’ll throw a hollow block at you].

Revolutionary government

Duterte’s “propaganda minister” Harry Roque.

Duterte’s “propaganda minister” Harry Roque.

In my column, “Revolutionizing martial law” (October 27, 2017), I wrote: “With each passing day, the country’s gloomy situation has evoked fears of martial law. And as criticism against Duterte’s “war on drugs” and extrajudicial killings intensifies, Duterte warned that he’d declare a revolutionary government if his critics’ attempt to ‘destabilize’ the government escalates and causes trouble. He accused the ‘Reds’ (communists) and the ‘Yellows’ (Liberal Party and supporters of former President Benigno Aquino III) of conspiring against him. He said that he’d arrest all of the destabilizers once he declares a revolutionary government, just like what Marcos did when he declared martial law.”

Roque’s appointment as Duterte’s spokesperson would fit well into Duterte’s future revolutionary government, which many believe, is already in the works. He could be Duterte’s “propaganda minister,” a role he would certainly relish with gusto.

And as Duterte unleashes his attack dog, there are two things that the people should be aware of. Goebbels once said: “Propaganda works best when those who are being manipulated are confident they are acting on their own free will.” Actually, it’s happening right now in social media where hordes of pro-Duterte netizens and trolls are defending Duterte’s “war on drugs” and state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings. But the irony of it all is that Goebbels had also said: “There will come a day, when all the lies will collapse under their own weight, and truth will once again triumph.” Watch out!


2 Responses. Have your say.

  1. Fernando Habito says:

    Roque is a “FAKE”..hUMAN rights activist” on the opposite he id now the depender of PDutz EJK and Justice with Impunity….because of his hunger for money and power.

  2. I just agree with your clear narrated article, PD. Hopefully, the true and the real facts will outshine the opposite.Let’s see in the coming days.

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